Before you start
Great! you have successfully installed VarAC, now what?
This short guide will help to make your first steps in the VarAC world and conduct your first successful QSO using VarAC while highlighting the "must-know" features.
VarAC is not just an application. It's a vibrant community with:
Now lets dig in.
Basic VarAC configuration
Make sure you installed VARA-HF modem. It can be downloaded from HERE
Enter your callsign in the "My callsign" text box.
On the top menu select: Settings --> PTT & VaraHF Configuration
Set your desired PTT and Frequency control modes (CAT/OmniRig/RTS/DTR) and use the TEST buttons to make sure they work.
Tell VarAC where the VaraHF modem is located in the "VARAHF main file path" section. Point it out to the VARAHF.EXE file you installed on step #1 (or VARAFM.EXE if you use VaraFM)
Make sure you select the right VaraHF port in the "VARAHF main port" section. The default port of VaraHF modem is 8300
Click "SAVE & CLOSE"
More detailed information about configuring VarAC can be found in this complete installation guide manual.
Where should I tune to find people to chat with?
Our main calling (gathering) frequencies are (USB dial) :
20m - 14.105 MHz (Primary - day time) - This is where you'll most of the traffic
40m - 7.105 MHz (Primary - night time)
80m - 3.595 MHz
30m - 10.133 MHz
17m - 18.106 MHz
15m - 21.105 MHz
12m - 24.927 MHz
10m - 28.105 MHz
6m - 50.330 MHz
CQ and Beacons
VarAC provides 2 different ways for you to notify other VarAC users that you are online.
Caling CQ: When you call CQ, your call will be both seen and heard (alarm sound) on other VarAC users' desktops who are tuned to the same frequency as you are.
Beacon: This is a "Soft CQ call" that will fire every 15 minutes letting people know that you are online and ready for a connection.
What should I use than?
Looking for someone to chat with NOW? Hit the CQ button. Got no answer? try again a couple of times.
Want to leave your RIG open and accept incoming connections while you mind your own business - hit the BEACON button.
A friendly tip
If you leave your RIG on the QRG with VarAC open, you will intercept other users' beacons.
Double clicking their callsign will connect with them.
How do I connect with someone?
There are 3 simple ways to start a QSO:
Double click a callsign on the "Last heard CQ" section.
Double click a callsign on the "Last heard Beacons" section
Type the callsign you wish to connect to into the "Connect to" textbox and hit "CONNECT"
What are all these texts & numbers I see when connected to someone?
Upon connections you will see texts like "<R-10>" or "de YOURCALL"
Like in FT8, VarAC exchanges SNR reports with the other side so you know how you are being heard and also for logging purposes.
VarAC periodically sends your callsign on air to comply with "self identification" regulations.
Guesters are TEXT CODES that when typed as part of your chat message, will trigger an event on the other side such as:
"DISCO" - will make sound
"HIHI" - will make a smiley emoji 😀😀
"TU!" - will say "THANK YOU 🙏"
Hit the "GUESTERS" button to see more options.
A friendly tip
Connected to someone but they are not there?
Write "DISCO" to make some noise on their end to drag them back to the shack
Canned messages & VarAC Tags
Canned messages are pre-defined texts like your information, 73 blessings, ASCII art etc.
You can configure your canned messages under the settings menu.
You can then attached one to your chat message by selecting it from the "Load a canned message" dropdown menu.
VarAC Tags are used either manually or in canned messages to send information that will be decoded by the other side and automatically populate the QSO log with your name, QTH & locator.
You can read more about VarAC tags in THIS document.
A friendly tip
We strongly recommend that you set your information tags within a canned message.
This will allow your partner to get all your information directly into their log entry.
Ending a QSO
Be polite, say 73's (or use one of the configurable canned message) and hit the "DISCONNECT" button.
Need to eject quickly ? Hit the "ABORT" button.
Logging the QSO
VarAC logs QSOs in an ADIF file in the VarAC installation directory under the name VarAC_qso_log.adi .
You can set VarAC to automatically log your QSO upon disconnection, or manually log it by clicking the "LOG" button.
A friendly tip
You can have your QSO uploaded automatically to QRZ.COM and other log systems.
Read this manual to see an example.
The QSY code of behavior
The calling frequencies are used for finding QSO mates and for short QSOs only.
If you are enjoying your QSO and want to continue chatting with your partner, then after ~5-10 minutes, ask your partner to QSY.
How? This is done by clicking the QSYU/QSYD buttons that will take you +/- 750Hz
This will initiate a QSY request that will instruct both sides to change frequency while chatting.
No need to prepare the QSY frequencies in your dropdown.
No need to disconnect prior or during to the QSY.
Still have questions ?
You won't wait long for an answer :)
You can also find more VarAC manuals here.
We wish you luck in making your first steps with VarAC and hope you enjoy it.
Irad 4Z1AC and the VarAC team